Bradford City: Working Hard To Grow Further

Above: Bradford City (white shirts) compete in an aerial battle this season. Photo: @BCAFC_Women

Chris Hames, head coach of FA Women’s National League Division One North side Bradford City spoke to Impetus’ Ben Gilby about his club’s past, present, and aims to keep growing (27/1/22).

Bradford City is a club with a glorious history. Formed in 1988, they were founder members of the Yorkshire and Humberside League and won a number of rapid promotions until they reached the top tier of the sport in 1997/98.

During this period, City made the semi-finals of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup going down on penalties to Arsenal. Their most recent promotion to the top flight came in 2013/14.

Above: Bradford City head coach Chris Hames. Photo: Twitter.

Head coach Chris Hames picked up the story of the club in more recent times. “We had some very good years challenging some of the biggest clubs in the country before a gradual decline in the last few years following the creation of the WSL and later the WSL2 (now the Championship). The club’s aim now is to get back to the vanguard of women’s football and establish itself in the top two tiers once more.

“The aim absolutely is to go higher in the league system again. We have started to pay expenses for the first time in the club’s history. This has to now be the minimum to compete and recruit at this level (tier four). We think we have a solid plan to progress up the league, and a sensible timeframe to do it. Our development is mental as much as technical and that takes some time.”

Bradford City is seeing the consequences of the growth of the women’s game, with pressures to maintain this growth themselves. “We have to grow exponentially just to keep up. We are seeing teams in our league, traditionally an amateur league, now paying £100+ a game to players. This has made everything far better, far more competitive, but harder along the way.”

Above: Bradford City celebrate. Photo: @BCAFC_Women

The relationship between City and the men’s team is strong and one which is continuing to grow, as Hames revealed. We are fully run by the club’s community foundation now, and due to the great links and trust between Qas (our General Manager) and Ryan, we are getting recognition and support from the men’s club all the time.

“That support has already led us playing our derby game at the main Valley Parade stadium and getting a league-high crowd. We now just need to keep up the work to ensure the fans recognize what we are doing and bring their passion across to supporting us too.”

With Bradford City currently in the FA Women’s National League Division One North, Hames outlined his view on the competition this season.

It’s a tough league. On experience, it seems to be one of, if not the, strongest league at this tier. We have done very well against top sides from the FA Women’s National League Division One Midlands, and find our own league matches further along in terms of progress.

Above: Bradford City get a shot in on goal against Yorkshire Amateurs. Photo: Alex Daniel via Bradford Telegraph & Argus.

The first eight games this season haven’t been as productive as we would have liked. We are ruing some missed opportunities to secure wins, but we are still confident of hitting our stride and progressing up the table and away from the drop.”

Bradford City’s further development will be aided by the pathway from girls to women’s football at the club. “The pathway is outstanding,” said Hames. “We are very proud of the route and the links we have. Nine players who have come through our girls’ teams have represented the first team so far this season. We are seeing technically proficient and tactically clever players coming through each year, with such a passion for the game and the club. It’s very promising.

“In five years, we want to have developed a more professional outfit where we can provide the best football option in the area for women and girls to develop, compete and excel in the game.”

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